Alicia Anabel Santos on Discovering Afro-Latino Heritage | 30 Days Unchained: Day 26 Monday 04 February, 2013

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30 Days Unchained/#30Unchained | Day 26 2/4/13 | Inspiration: Alicia Anabel Santos Alicia Anabel Santos wondered why Afro-latinos are hardly acknowledged latin American society and history and committed herself to understanding why. Fellow explorer of the African presence in Latin America, Renzo Devia, invited her to contribute to a documentary series, “Afro-latinos: The Untaught Story,” […]

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30 Days Unchained/#30Unchained | Day 26 2/4/13 | Inspiration: Alicia Anabel Santos

Alicia Santos and Renzo Devi

Alicia Anabel Santos wondered why Afro-latinos are hardly acknowledged latin American society and history and committed herself to understanding why. Fellow explorer of the African presence in Latin America, Renzo Devia, invited her to contribute to a documentary series, “Afro-latinos: The Untaught Story,” exploring the lives of Afro-latinos across Latin America. The “Afro-latinos” series documents the history of Afro-latinos beginning with the slave trade and features interviews discussing topics ranging from religion, to politics, poverty, “good hair” and more.

A big part of this project for Alicia has been a discovery of her own roots as an American-born latina, Dominican, Hispanic and woman of African descent. Alicia tells Live Unchained: “I feel more grounded…more proud of my culture… I am still learning what identity means for me—but this journey has certainly brought me closer today than I ever was.” Alicia’s journey of discovery is the inspiration for today’s challenge… 

Challenge (Find, Create, or Remix an image that answers the question): What do you want to discover?

Share your image(s) on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and be sure to tag @liveunchained and use the hashtag #30unchained so we can shout you out! Be sure to follow us on FacebookPinterest and Twitter to keep up with the latest #30unchained news. 

Alicia Anabel Santos

Live Unchained: Let’s talk about the title. The full title of the documentary is “Afro-Latinos: The Untaught Story.” Why was it important for the project to be titled Afro-Latinos—a term many people criticize or do not take seriously?

Alicia Anabel Santos: The title AFRO-LATINOS is intentionally used to highlight a group of people that have barely been written about. We wanted to tell the untaught story of Afro-Latinos… to take people on a journey as we discover who Afro-Latinos are and how the African influence mixed with Spanish culture has made Latin America what it is today. In countries such as Mexico and Peru the focus has always been on the Indigenous and Spanish contributions in history… what about the African part? It was important for us that this story be told.

LU: Why do you think the experiences and history of Afro-Latinos has received limited attention?

AAS: There are many reasons why the Afro-latino population has received NO attention. Some of it has to do with race, class, and economy, but mostly it has to do with education. There are many people who do not know where they come from. Countries throughout Latin America aren’t teaching a COMPLETE and INCLUSIVE history. Yet, another reason Afro-Latinos are not acknowledged or seen has much to do with the color of their skin. There is a reason why most of these communities are still undeveloped and receive very little resources or economic attention and it has much to do with being black. Discrimination is alive and well throughout Latin America.

Alicia Anabel Santos

LU: Why is the term African Diaspora important to you? What do you think the term African Diaspora captures that would be lost if we simply used terminology like “black populations in different countries,” for example?

AAS: The term African Diaspora is very important because it includes the descendants of Africans who were dispersed throughout the world. Using terms like “black population” puts people in a small group… it’s limiting and isolates a group of people. African Diaspora groups us with a larger more inclusive group and honors where we all come from.

LU: You consider one of the most important chapters in the documentary the contemporary challenges facing Afro-Latinos. One of the common challenges you saw in Afro-Latino communities was the lack of government support. What are some examples of this? What are other common challenges facing Afro-Latino communities?

AAS: CORRUPTION is my fast answer… but it is much more complicated than that… U.S. Agencies send money to countries like Colombia for example who receives over 10 million dollars from the U.S. and you assume that this money is getting into the right hands and is being used for the purposes intended, which is rarely the case. Renzo traveled to Chocó where funds were provided to restore or create plumbing and fix roads this work has not been done. This is just one example but a common problem throughout Latin America.

LU: What does activism mean to you? Would you consider this an activist project?

AAS: Activist to me means fighting for the rights of those who don’t know how to or are afraid to fight for themselves… to me it means being ACTIVE – – doing something… working with others towards change and for the greater good. Is this an activist project—ABSOLUTELY… but we see our selves as recruiters… Renzo and I need more people joining us to help these communities.

This interview is excerpted from a full feature with the artist. View the original article here.

30 Days Unchained/#30unchained is an interactive creative countdown to the Live Unchained Anniversary Celebration . Everyday for 30 days, we’ll share some of our most popular interviews with Live Unchained featured artists. They include women creatives of various disciplines from across the African diaspora. Her creative journey will be the inspiration for your challenge. To participate simply respond to the challenge question with images (not words). Share it on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest and be sure to tag @liveunchained so we can shout you out – it’s that simple. Learn more about 30 Days Unchained, including rules and prizes hereGet your daily challenge from Thursday, January 10th through the day of the big bash on Friday, February 8th at www.liveunchained.com.

Written by Kathryn Buford and Nesrien Hamid 

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